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The India national football team is the national football team of India and is controlled by the All India Football Federation. It is a fledgling team ranked 128th in the FIFA World Rankings as of July 2006. However, qualification for the Asian Cup or the World Cup seems some distance away.
The Indian team has enjoyed some level of success in the past. India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. However, they did not take up their place in the competition because FIFA demanded all players at the World Cup finals should wear football boots. A number of the Indian players refused to abide by this rule and the team was forced to withdraw; the team has never since come close to qualifying for the World Cup. India also finished 4th in the football tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Neville D'Souza became the only Indian player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics, against Australia, at the tournament. India also took part in the 1948, 1952 and 1960 Olympics. India won the Asian Games Gold medal in the year 1962, in 1966 they finished 4th and in 1970, 3rd. This was known as the golden era of Indian football. India won their first major trophy outside the sub-continent when they clinched the LG Cup in Vietnam in 2002 under English coach Stephen Constantine. For Constantine it was his first tournament, but unfortunately, his last successful one. Poor performances led to his sacking 3 years later. India also managed to finish in the 2nd position at the first ever Afro-Asian Games held in India in the year 2003.
India is a soccer powerhouse in the SAFF region. They have won the South Asian Football Federation Cup 4 times, in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2005. In 1995 and 2003, they finished second.
Government apathy, the rising popularity of cricket, and poor sponsorship have led to a lack of quality players from India. However, the sport is widely followed in most parts of the country. Most of the teams in the India league come from the football crazy states of Goa and West Bengal. Other states where the game is popular are Manipur, Kerala and Punjab. With television coverage coming in for the national league recently, it seems like things will change for the better. India is also beginning to get some international recognition, as was evident from the 7-year sponsorship deal signed with sports apparel and equipment giant Nike in February 2006.
The current captain is Baichung Bhutia from Sikkim. Bhutia is the only contemporary Indian to have played professional football, for Bury in the English Football League.
The AIFF has recently appointed Bob Houghton as the new manager for the national side. His appointment comes after India's dismal performances in the Asian Cup qualifiers under the coaching of Syed Nayeemuddin. The Englishman is a widely respected coach and has had stints with the national teams of China and Uzbekistan before coming to India. He was chosen from a list of 4 respected coaches, shortlisted by the special panel of AIFF. The list also included former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr.
World Cup record
Asian Cup record
South Asian Football Federation Cup record
AFC Challenge Cup record
Current TeamSandeep Nandy, N. P. Pradeep , N.S. Manju , Mehrajuddin Wadoo , Sanjive Maria , Sampath Kumar Kuttimani , Mehtab Hossain , Xavier Vijayakumar , Manjit Singh , Syed Rahim Nabi , Praveen Kumar , Dharamjit Singh , Baichung Bhutia , James Lukram Singh , Surkumar Singh , Abdul Hakkim , Kalyan Chaube , Israt Kamal , Deepak Kumar Mondal , Micky Fernandes
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